Monday, November 16, 2009

Catch-22 - Final Review

Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1955

Plot: Relatively non-existent. This book takes place with a squadron of bombadiers as WWII draws to a close and shares tons of little anecdotes about their time together. It is sort of in the middle, as about half of the stories are things that have already happened and half of the "plot" is moving forward. However, this book is much more about how the characters deal with their circumstances than a straightforward narrative. Because of this, it is hard to grade it down on plot when there wasn't really supposed to be one. I enjoyed the little stories though,

Style: I realize that I am far from the most well-read person ever, but I have never read a book with such an unusual style. Much of the stylistic characteristics of previous books I've read can (at least partly) be attributed to the time period. But in this instance, I think it is all Heller. This book was alternately hilarious and gruesome. The characters consistently talk in circles and have conversations with each other that go nowhere. It is funny, but hard to imagine anyone actually having that sort of conversation. Also, there were so many characters it was nearly impossible to keep them all straight, especially because he would mention them once and then not again for 5 chapters or so. Heller described people in great detail: their facial features, their mannerisms, but didn't do the same for the settings or environments. It was crazy and hard to follow at times, but it was so much fun to read. 8/10

Hotness of the main character: John "Yo-Yo" Yossarian. Physical attributes aside (partly because I don't remember them and partly because Heller seemed to describe everyone frankly and unflatteringly) he seems like a pretty normal guy. He cared about his friends, and didn't care about the other guys. All he wanted to do was go home. And also he slept around a lot. Too much of a charity case for me. :) 3/10

The character who I would most like to be: Oh wow there are so many to choose from. I think I'd pick Orr. He had infinite patience, made the best of every situation and was totally funny.

Re-readability: Occasionally. It might be nice to read again with a better understanding of the characters and where everything is going.

Fun quote: "Why did you walk around all day with rubber balls in your hands?"..."I did it to protect my good reputation in case anyone ever caught me walking around with crab apples in my cheeks. With rubber balls in my hands I could deny there were crab apples in my cheeks. Every time someone asked me why I was walking around with crab apples in my cheeks, I'd just open my hands and show them it was rubber balls I was walking around with, not crab apples, and that they were in my hands, not my cheeks. It was a good story. But I never knew if it got across or not, since it's pretty tough to make people understand you when you're talking to them with two crab apples in your cheeks."

Final Decision: Shelf it.